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Dear Yuletide Writer (2012)
yuletide, writing, letter, fandom
Hi there!

If you're reading this, it's probably because you've been asked to write me something for the Yuletide fic exchange. I know most authors worry at this point, because they're afraid they'll write something that the recipient doesn't like to read.

You won't have that problem with me!

Let's start with the basics...

I have no squicks or triggers.

I read, gen, het, both types of slash and poly.

I read drabbles and epics, plotty fics and PWPs, romance and gen, NC-17 and G rated, canon characters and OCs, crossovers and AUs, darkfic, comedy, character studies, deathfic, poetry, weird avant garde stuff... You name it, I read it, so don't be afraid to write it! Seriously, write the story you want to tell, because that is the story I want to read. You can give me anything in these fandoms and I will love you to pieces.

However, if you're the sort of person who gets terrified by open-ended requests and would like suggestions, you are in luck!

Let's talk fandoms...

Cracked: After Hours - (Characters: Any)

Wait, you're nominating Do you know how distracting that site is? Just doing canon review will take me until February! I'm gonna have to default and it will all be your fault, AD!

No, no, no! Look, I'm not asking you to read the whole of There is just a very small and specific section of it for which I would like fic.

Which is?

The After Hours Videos. There's only twenty of them and they're each about five minutes long. You could blitz through your canon review in less time than it takes to watch a movie. Also the links below the videos are only to other After Hours videos, so you're less likely to get sucked into other areas of the site and wind up with a billion tabs open.

Well, fine. Maybe I won't default. Tell me about After Hours.

Oh Yuletide Writer, it's so much fun! It's a series of short videos starring fictionalised versions of four staff members from The conceit of the series is that after work Soren, Daniel, Michael and Katie will go out to a local diner and dissect pop culture over dinner.

Wait, is this about your obsessive need to Overanalyse All The Things?

No. It is also about my obsessive need for snappy, overlapping dialogue; terrible puns; neat pop culture trivia and characters who snark at one another, but remain good friends deep down.

But mostly the meta?

Yeah, mostly the meta.

Okay, well now we've established that, what are you looking for in a Yuletide fic?

Well, the series updates way too slowly for my liking, so I'd be psyched about a "missing episode" type fic with the gang in the diner discussing something.

Discussing what?

Doesn't matter. I'm happy for them to be discussing a fandom I'm not familiar with, so long as I get enough context from their conversation to follow the argument. (That's the same way I watch the episodes after all!)

I appreciate that, but I thought it might be nice to use a fandom you were actually in or had strong opinions about.

That's so sweet of you! Here are some things I would be discussing if I were in the diner with them:

In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe we learn that The White Witch has magically induced a never ending winter and there's been thick snow on the ground for literally generations and all trade routes are closed. We know the witch can magic food out of nothing, but we also know that eating it will put you in thrall to her because that's what happens to Edmund. Narnia has a burgeoning resistance movement that is not in thrall to the witch. Where is all their food coming from? I think Michael would agree with me that there was probably some cannibalism going on among the sentient animals there.

William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is not a comedy, it's a tragedy. Everybody thinks of it as having a happy ending because the four Athenians get paired off in the end. This neatly ignores the fact that Demetrius has basically been roofied by Puck and forced to marry his stalker. You could argue that since he was pursuing Hermia against her wishes, it's a sort of karmic justice, but it still makes the play a dark morality tale and not a light hearted rom-com.

Oh. I don't actually know either of those fandoms.

No problem. What about putting together teams of heroes? There's this one fic I read where the concept was the British Avengers.

Like John Steed and Emma Peel?

No, like if they'd put together the team for the recent superhero movie using only British characters. So Harry Potter, The Doctor and James Bond all work for a government department led by Blackadder.

But if it's already been done...

Okay, but what would the French line up look like?

Well, I guess you'd have Amelie and Asterix and Tintin... wait, is Tintin Belgian?

Daniel would know! Isn't that exactly the sort of thing they'd be discussing in the diner? I also like coming up with LXG teams.

Is that League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? I'm not in that fandom either.

It's a superhero team-up between characters from Victorian novels. It's implied that each generation has a team like this. So there was an Edwardian League, a WWII-era League, a sixties League...

Didn't I see something like that in the nominations list? Something about Scully from The X-Files and Zac from Saved By The Bell teaming up to fight crime?

Yeah. Somebody came up with a potential nineties League and made fanart of it. If you'd like to crossover with that artwork feel free to have the Cracked team discover it and argue about it!

Okay, but look what if I don't want to write a standard episode-in-the-diner type fic? What if I want to write something plotty or 'shippy or do character introspection?

Good point! Let's talk about the characters.

Shall we start with Soren?

Oh man, Soren! Between the womanising ("booty call list?" "It's more of a booty-base"), the constant need to be in control, the refusal to admit he's a nerd ("I'm not out like you guys") his privileged upbringing ("the working classes really are invisible to you aren't they?") his belief that might makes right and his McCarthy-style accusations that everybody is a terrorist (Princess Leia, zombies, Slytherins, Mario...) I would probably hate him in real life.

But then I see the way he looks out for Daniel (taking his side, approving of his terrible impressions) who by all the evidence available would not have survived high school without Soren's friendship, I see him picking up the tab for everybody's dinner in the robot apocalypse ep even though they're all making fun of him. I see how without him leading, moderating and directing the conversations that each episode would be six hours long and never reach a punchline. I see him discussing his essentially loveless childhood. I see that his greatest fear is his own weakness and inevitable failure and then I kind of want to hug him.

I'm especially interested in how far back he and Daniel go or the continuing ideological battles between him and Katie, either of which could easily be written as shippy if you wanted to go in that direction. (I don't really see Soren/Michael, but I'm open to being persuaded.)

What about Daniel?

Poor, poor Daniel: ever the buttmonkey. (Which is kind of hilarious because the real life Daniel O'Brien is a senior editor and therefore their boss.) I have a vague idea that Dan and Michael might be roommates (mostly based on them leaving together after the Batman ep and the comment about Michael pooping in Dan's toaster) so I would absolutely be up for an Odd Couple type fic about those two living together. I'd also like anything exploring the roots of his Spiderman obsession, his compulsive need to document everything or his fear of abandonment. Extra brownie points if you can somehow combine that last one with the theory Michael mentions in the High School ep about how Ferris Bueller may have just been a figment of Cameron's imagination. The Halloween ep shows us that Daniel's greatest fear is just that he's sitting in a diner by himself with his little notecards. He's afraid that his friends aren't real. (Even more brownie points if you can get Daniel to believe this and then it subsequently turns out to be Michael staging the whole thing to mess with Daniel's head. Because he so would.

Actually let's talk about Michael.

Socially awkward or sociopathic? Does he really not know how inappropriate he's being or does he just not care? There's a case to be made either way and I imagine the rest of the group have had that argument multiple times in Michael's absence. Whichever it is, he's hilarious. I'd be psyched by a fic exploring what passes for Michael's decision-making process or looking at the mysterious Michael/Katie incident that is mentioned in the first episode and then never brought up again. I like the dichotomy of how he's all naive and childlike about everyday things (from Scientology in the Trek ep to Sex and the City in the Turtles ep) yet also Machiavellian (selling his friends to the zombies for leniency in the apocalypse ep) and sex-obsessed (every single episode).

And Katie?

I am totally with Michael on the Katie-has-an-annoying-voice thing. Other than that, though she rocks pretty hard. I love that she's not afraid of bringing the long words or referencing classic texts in the middle of their ridiculous pop-culture conversations. I can relate to her occasional frustration at being the token girl in a male group of friends and at having to be somebody rubbish (usually a stripper) when they re-map themselves onto characters from whatever they're discussing. I love her passion and enthusiasm (ever notice just how many of her contributions start with "Ooh!") and determination. I love that she made a slashy Harry Potter collage and firmly believe that she's a fanwriter herself. (If you wanted to go meta, I would definitely be open to a fic where Katie is participating in Yuletide.)

Did we just discuss the characters in the same order they sit around the table?


Why do they always sit in that configuration anyway? They do it even when they're away from the diner, like the camping episode!

My hunch is that they arrived at the configuration after trying all the alternatives and finding that they didn't work. Daniel needs Soren beside him for protection. Katie is the only one who can deal with Michael's crazy up-close. I imagine there was some pretty hilarious trial and error there.

Maybe I should write fic about that!

Maybe you should!

Metafilter - (Characters: Any)

Okay, so are you looking for RPF about the contributors to the site, anthropomorfic where the subsites are the characters or a story based on fiction originating on Metafilter?


Which one?

Any of them. All those options sound awesome!

Well, okay. Let's go through them.

Should we start with the RPF?

Yeah. I don't see how that would work. Didn't the Yuletide mods institute a rule that said people on internet communities needed to give their explicit consent before they could be used in RPF?

I think so, yeah.

Well, how am I supposed to do that? If I make a post on the gray asking for volunteers that I can write about isn't that going to out me as your author?

Oh, good point. I guess you could ask Jessamyn to post it for you by proxy? Or just choose the people you want to write about and get their consent via memail?

What if I'm not comfortable doing that?

You could write fic about Mefites who don't really exist, like Paphnuty or the cabal?


There was this ridiculously long post on the blue a few years back about how a contributor to Boing Boing had been completely deleted from the site and any reference to her purged. The thread got kinda lulzy and a lot of mefites were being smug about how our mods aren't jackbooted Stalinist revisionists who go around disemvowelling people and purging them from the intarwebz and then somebody else was, like, yeah, but if they'd been purged already how would you know?

Then somebody invented Paphnuty, the mefite who was wiped from the site for a crime against the mods so grave that it can never be explained. (And to nobody's surprise somebody immediately ponied up $5 for a sock puppet in the name of Paphnuty. The sock shows up periodically to post in smalltext about how he's locked in a basement somewhere and gets beaten every time we mention him.)

It's basically just an extension of the cabal joke.


There is no cabal.

I totally walked into that one. Hey what about anonymous?

Like the 4chan army?

No, like the person who posted all these questions. It's already a running gag to pretend they're all posted by a single, very confused mefite. Maybe I could write you a Day-In-The-Life-Of-Anonymous type fic?

I would really enjoy that! Although I'd be wary of incorporating so much from any one question that it seemed like it was singling that question's author out. Kept hypothetical or generic, though? A Day-In-The-Life-Of-Anonymous fic sounds awesome.

Hey what's your Mefi username/number

123456 - 59196 = My Usernumber

That's a remarkably circuitous way of presenting the information.

I haven't been terribly good at maintaining a boundary between my MeFi account and my professional life. I'm hoping I can maintain the boundary between that and my fic about Guybrush Threepwood visiting a sex shop, at least as far as Google is concerned.

Fair enough. What about anthropomorfic?

I want an epic power struggle between The Blue, The Green and The Gray! The Blue thinks it's in charge because it's been around longest and The Green thinks it's most important because it's the most popular, but ultimately nothing major is ever going to happen without The Gray knowing about it.

And music?

Is above these petty squabbles, but might provide a cool soundtrack for them to fight to.

Okay, what about fiction posted to Metafilter?

I would be super up for seeing fanfic of some of the things that get posted to Mefi. I'm thinking specifically of comment fables like The Wheel and The Queue

I still haven't found an idea that grabs me. Can you suggest some more things you might like?

Sure. Did you want to write a crossover at all? Because I am pretty sure PB is a Time Lord.

Holy crap, he IS, isn't he? It's the only explanation for how he's able to fix bugs within about three seconds of them being submitted. But if I can't write about PB?

Tell me the story of a Mefi meetup through the eyes of a non-mefite. Maybe via the police reports that were filed after the meetup went south. Something like that.

Sure, or how about a Texts From Last Night style fic where the texts are from a confused bystander who just happened to be in the same bar?

Perfect! Hey, or how do you feel about a fic based off the recent round of recruitment for moderators? I know they just asked people to write in, but if it had been a more formal process with an application form what sort of questions would they have asked on the application form?

Or if it had been a public competition process, like on reality TV?

Oh man, that would be HILARIOUS! Or, hey, maybe you could write a what-if story about something that's never going to happen?

Like what?

The launch of a new subsite? I know we're never going to get PoliticsFilter or EatMe, but I would love a fic exploring what they might look like. Or what would happen if the image tag ever came back.

Never say never, we finally got the edit window after all!

We did, didn't we? *hugs edit window*

Oh and I notice from your other requests that's you're a big fan of meta. Does that mean you'd like a fic about mefites doing Yuletide?

Holy crap, yes! If you were to do a fic showing what the front page of AskMe would look like in December if all the Mefites were Yuletiders I would be endlessly entertained!

Private Eye - (Characters: Any)

Private Eye? Isn't that the scurrilous, hypocritical scandal-sheet run by the most sued man in England? The one that's written by sniggering ex-public schoolboys and filled with unsubstantiated allegations and nob jokes?


Or wait... did you mean the fifty year old national treasure that crusades for freedom of the press and government accountability, despite many campaigns by the powers that be to silence it?

Also yes.

They're the same magazine? How does that even work?

Fucked if I know, but isn't it awesome? I've been reading it off and on since the early nineties, when it was just one of the many places I went to get my topical satire fix alongside Drop The Dead Donkey, Spitting Image and Have I Got News For You. Eventually I admitted my addiction and just took out a subscription.

So how exactly am I supposed to write fic for it?

Lots of ways! I mean, you could write RPF about the people involved with the real life magazine. The neverending battle between Ian Hislop and Carter-Fuck for example.

And if I don't want to write RPF?

No problem! You could totally write fake RPF. It would be amazing! Don't you want to write a story set in a newsroom where E J Thribb really is some precocious child in charge of writing poetic obituaries, where Polly Filler and Lord Gnome and the Krapp catalogue and the rest of it are all real?

Okay, that's... kind of awesome actually. But what if that isn't what I want to write?

Then why not write a fic set in one of the comic strips? I would be totally up for a story about Jez and Quin doing their overpriced, painfully right-on Christmas shopping or about Gary Bloke hiring somebody to ghostwrite his autobiography.

Which is then published by Snipcock and Tweed?

Exactly! You could have an amazing mash-up of multiple comics.

And if I'd rather not write the comics?

Well, I'm a big fan of crossovers. Why not apply the Private Eye format to another fandom? I can just see Glenda Slagg taking on Iron Man. "Tony Stark, DONTCHAJUST LOVE HIM??!! This dishy self-made superhero's said to be very well endowed. IN THE WALLET!!?!"

So you want an Iron Man crossover?

Well, I wouldn't say no, but my point was that you could cross Private Eye over with ANY fandom. Hell you could cross it over with fandom itself if you wanted to. I enjoy meta even more than I enjoy crossovers!

That sounds complicated. Is there anything simpler I could write for you?

Topical comedy will always make me :D You could just write a Private Eye style article about something that's currently in the news and make me very happy.

Cool. Or, hey, what about a historical version? Like if Private Eye had been around in the 1600s or something?

Yes! Yes, you could totally write that! There are so many different angles you could take!

Okay, but is there anything that you would love above all else?

Well, I should probably mention that I am particularly addicted to the Private Eye crossword. Cryptic crosswords full of dirty jokes and political snark are the best thing ever. I have no idea how you would incorporate this into a fic, but on the offchance that you are a professional crossword setter with a mind like a corkscrew, I thought it was worth bringing up.

That's... not really me. Nevertheless, I will do my best for you!

Thank you! The idea that there may soon be Private Eye fanfic in existence fills me with glee!

Yuletide Anthropomorfic - (Characters: The Hippos)

You're requesting characters? Why are you requesting characters? You NEVER request specific characters. I feel like everything I've learned about you is a lie, AD.

This fandom changed slightly between the nominations period and the signups period. I'm requesting fic about the hippos because I want to be completely fair on YOU, Yuletide Writer!

How do you mean?

It was originally nominated as being for fic about the #Yuletide IRC channel and its inhabitants, but was subsequently wrangled to become general Yuletide anthropomorfic.

Why did that affect your signup?

Because I specifically want fanfic that is inspired by that IRC channel! If I'd asked for 'Any', I might have matched somebody who'd offered to write anthropomorfic about AO3 and had never even visited #Yuletide!

So why hippos?

Because of the available characters, they're the only one that exists exclusively on #Yuletide, so anybody offering to write them... familiar with #Yuletide?

Exactly. Doing it this way means nobody gets stuck writing things they didn't sign up for!

Well okay then, I guess we'd better start by talking about the hippos.

I'd be glad to! What would you like to know?

Well firstly, where do they come from? What does an anonymous beta-finding service have to do with hippos?

There's a game called Die Anstalt or The Asylum where you act as a psychiatrist to a group of stuffed animals. (Die Anstalt has been a Yuletide fandom in previous years.) One of the patients is a purple hippo called Lilo with a zipped up mouth.

This is Lilo...

Picture of Lilo

Why is his mouth zipped up?

Are you okay with spoilers for the game? You could just play it yourself...

Nah, spoilers are fine.

Okay, well Lilo was originally a plushie pencil case belonging to a kid. Lilo's owner hid the answers to a maths test inside Lilo. When the teacher came over, unzipped Lilo and busted the student, Lilo thought it was all his fault. Since then he'd refused to unzip his mouth going to far as to pin it shut for additional security. (The therapy eventually helps him deal with his guilt and he's reconciled with his owner.)

What the hell kind of game is that?

An awesome one! Anyway that's why the people volunteering to anonymously pass on beta requests are called hippos, because they keep their mouths shut and don't reveal secrets about who is writing for whom.

Okay, but what about the dancing? Don't the hippos in #Yuletide dance?

Yes, but that owes more to these...

The hippos from Walt Disney's Fantasia?

Yep. As you might expect, a dancing hippo is extremely difficult to ignore. So when one of the #Yuletide hippos needs the attention of the room, they break out the capslock and do a little dance. Different people have different ways of getting the room's attention. Some people just write "HIPPO DANCE!" while others add all sorts of extra detail about what sort of dance they're doing. When I'm being Hippo-AD, I often do mine in rhyme.

Like how?


I've also been known to lead the room in a rousing chorus of "If you're hippo and you know it, clap your hands." The goal is to temporarily derail the everybody's conversation so that they're heeding the hippo when the details of the fic that needs a beta are posted. (Some hippos just shout "IIIIIIIINCOOOOOMIIIING!" which I love because it gives the impression of a hippo ballerina realising partway through their grand jeté that they're about to crash into the audience.)

So when you picture the hippos are you picturing Lilo or the Fantasians?

Usually some sort of combination. The main thing is that in my head they are always cartoon hippos and never ones that look like this...


Exactly! Basically the two things I don't want here are stories about actual real-life animals or stories about some random human who happens to be named Hippo. If you want to write about four legged hippos I'd prefer that your story be about adorable cartoon hippos whose characterisation is drawn from their behaviour in #Yuletide and if you want to write about two legged hippos, I'd prefer that your story be about people from #Yuletide pretending to be hippos online.

Gotcha. Okay, so if I want to write about "adorable cartoon hippos whose characterisation is drawn from their behaviour in #Yuletide" what prompts do you have for me?

I want fic about them set during the Yuletide off-season! They're not needed in #Yuletide for three quarters of the year, so what do they do instead? You could write me a Hippo spy story where instead of writers' secrets they deal in government secrets! Or you could write me a hippo ballet story where our plucky lead has to overcome all sorts of prejudice against hippo ballerinas, but then when her big break comes playing the lead in a production of The Nutcracker the show is going to clash with Yuletide and she has to decide what's really important to her.

Cute. What about the human hippos?

Feel free to draw on any of last year's prompts.

Except the one about icebergs, right?

Well, you could still write it, but there'll be a different Yulechat challenge for this year. If you feel you can work the chosen word for 2012 into your story somewhere, please do. It'll make me smile!


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